Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fiore - Still Doing It (MD)

In 1986, Mike and Rose opened Fiore Winery and named the vineyards, “La Felicetta". Mike worked odd shifts at BG&E so that he could tend to the grapes. Although he and Rose held onto their day jobs. After a while, Mike’s enthusiasm towards the vineyard started to flourish.

Here's a picture of Mike back in the day.

The thing you have to remember is that Mike is an important piece of Maryland winemaking history himself. He is the bridge between the Ham Mowbray (one of the fathers of Maryland wine along with Wagner) generation wine Maryland winemakers and the new wave of folk making wines in that state now. Back in the day he was the young turk, but today is one of the grand old men of Maryland wine.

Over the next twenty years, Rose and Mike turned their passion into prosperity. They gradually moved from 1,500 to 35,000 gallons. Their commitment to produce a quality product has earned them hundreds of awards, including 50 international medals between 2005 and 2008.

Since then they have added a new distillery operation which was the first farm winery distillery license in the state. And they continued their rapid growth with the introduction of a whole new slew of products.

Here's a photo of Mike today with east coast wine expert Richard Leahy

But of course, sometimes you have to remember, even with all the excitement of the new products, that it does come back to the wines. In March of this year, I tasted a trio of wines from Mike, including two favorites, the Fiore Chambourcin 2009 and their Fiore Cabernet Franc 2011.

Among east coast winemakers, Mike has always had a way with Chambourcin, making an almost Italian-styled wine with it. He won his Governor's Cup back in the 1990s with his Chambourcin, and the wine has won dozens of medals around the country ever since. Medium in body, with lovely notes of bright and dark cherry, these wines have had bright acidity and good tannins that were perfect companions for a meal. This 2009 edition kept up the high standard he had helped set for really good, quality dry Chambourcins on the east coast.

Fiore's estate grown Cabernet Franc starts with big notes of ripe plum and dark cherry. This unfilted wine has good fruit and a nice, spicy finish. Well built, and nicely balanced, the wine has good structure, and again, is a fine accompaniment to any meal.

You have to love Mike. Whether you see him at his winery or at a wine trade show or a wine festival, he is never shy. His thick, Italian voice cuts through the crowd noise with a voice with a vibrato like Pavarotti. He looks more like Santa Claus these days than the Sergio Leone gunslinger from his earlier years. But don't let the cuddly look fool you...he's still full of piss and vinegar, and always ready with a glad hand and ready for chat. One of the good guys in east coast wine.